The Positive Impact of Gardening with Children

Updated: 5/22/18 Gardening provides a great opportunity for kids to play and grow, and can be a powerful tool in teaching children about nutrition.  With a little effort, you can create your very own garden at home!  The benefits of gardening are endless for kids, and encouraging healthy eating at home sets children up for a healthy future.  


Benefits of Gardening with Kids:

1. Gardening is a great learning experience for children.  Creating and maintaining a garden teaches kids about plant science, weather and nature.

2.  It encourages healthy eating by showing kids how fresh food is grown and then prepared into meals.  Children become invested in food that they garden themselves and have a sense of pride in the foods they have created, making them more likely to eat these healthy options.

3.  It teaches responsibility and the importance of caring for the environment.   It also teaches skills such as patience, planning and organizing.

4.  Gardening promotes physical activity.  Without realizing they are "exercising", kids are able to get physical activity by being outdoors weeding, planting and watering.

5.  It's fun!  Kids love digging in soil and getting dirty.  Gardening is also a great activity to spend time as a family.

Tips for Gardening with Kids:

1. Keep it simple!  Try planting a small bed of soil, or grow fruits and vegetables in an existing landscape in your yard.  If you don't have a lot of space or available land for growing, use small pots with soil for cherry tomatoes or fresh herbs. Use a trellis to grow vegetables like peas and beans.

2.  Use lightweight, easy, and small garden tools and equipment to keep children safe.

3.  Make a scarecrow.  Work with your children to create a fun, and creative version of a scarecrow for the garden.

4.  Select fast growing vegetables and brightly colored flowers to keep the attention of children.


Does your school or neighborhood may have a community garden?

Getting Active to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Updated:  8/22/18 Physical activity and exercise is a crucial part of keeping children healthy and preventing childhood obesity and disease.

Here's some ways to help get your family active:

1. Create an open discussion with children and explain why it's important to sit less and move more, to become and stay healthy.

2. Limit "screen time" each day.  Give kids a set amount of time that they may spend watching television, playing video games, or using the computer.  Encourage kids to use this time for physical activities.  When kids are spending time in front of the TV, teach them to move during commercials.

3. Create exercise and activity goals for the entire family.  Include individual goals, and activities that the family will participate in together.  Set realistic and specific goals, such as walking or biking for 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

4. Make exercise fun with your family by choosing an exciting activity - dance, play tag, go on the swings at a park, go swimming, play Frisbee.

5. Park your car farther away - have kids count the number of steps it takes to get to your destination.

6. Encourage children to join sports teams.  This a great way to encourage exercise and to make friends, learn how to work as a team and have fun!

Each of our clinic’s 30 free Pro-Teen programs – which include all medical set-up, lab work, 10-weeks of weight loss services and all nutritional supplements, and are valued more than $500 each – will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis from Sept. 1 to 30, 2016, using an online entry system at  Applicants must complete a short entry form and describe in 100 words or less why they are interested in MWLC’s Pro-Teen weight-loss services.

Creating Healthy Eating Environments for Children

Updated: 8/2/18 The food and behavior choices of children are shaped by the eating environments that surround them, access to healthy and fresh food, and product marketing.  Creating a healthy eating environment for children helps prevent childhood obesity and can leave a lasting positive impact into adulthood.

Here are some ways to promote a healthy eating environment for your kids:applebanana

1. Keep a variety of fresh fruits within reach of your children - this will encourage them to grab a healthy snack.

2. Inform children about nutrition and why it's important to eat healthy foods.  Discuss the different food groups and what foods fit into each group.

3. Provide healthy beverages, such as water and fruit juice.  Limit foods and drinks that contain added sugar.

4. If available, create a garden at home and grow fresh fruits and vegetables.  Involving kids in gardening fresh vegetables will encourage them to eat them.

5. Cook meals at home where you have control over ingredients and portion sizes.  Prepare plates in the kitchen before serving a meal and sit down to eat a family meal together when possible.

7. Pack lunches with your kids - if they are invested in what they will be eating, they are more likely to enjoy the food and not throw healthy items away.

Each of our clinic’s 30 free Pro-Teen programs – which include all medical set-up, lab work, 10-weeks of weight loss services and all nutritional supplements, and are valued more than $500 each – will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis from Sept. 1 to 30, 2016, using an online entry system at  Applicants must complete a short entry form and describe in 100 words or less why they are interested in MWLC’s Pro-Teen weight-loss services.

Apples: The Back to School Fruit

As the Fall season approaches, and kids head back to school, it's time to stock up on apples!  Apples provide several health benefits and are a great addition when packing your child's lunch. Apples

3 Health Benefits of Apples:

1. Apples have high fiber content.  A medium apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, helping you feel full, promoting intestinal regularity, and helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

2. Apples are rich in Vitamin C, an essential vitamin that helps the body create and maintain connective tissue.

3. Apples are high in antioxidants, contributing to decreased inflammation and reduced risk of cancer.  Apples contain a significant amount of an antioxidant called quercetin, which helps promote healthy lung function.

5 Ways to Incorporate Apples into Healthy School Lunches:

1. Make an "apple sandwich" by using apple slices as "bread" and filling the middle of two slices with peanut butter.  Try adding raisins.


2. Add diced apples to tuna salad and wrap tuna mixture in a whole wheat pita to add some crunch to your child's sandwich.

3. Use a vegetable spiralizer to make apple "pasta" noodles.  Kids can turn the spiralizer handle and watch their fruit turn into pasta.  Use as a base for a fruit salad, or place spiralized apple into a container to be eaten like "noodles".

4. Kids love to dip!  Slice apples into thin "sticks" that can be used for dipping.  Pack peanut butter or yogurt to dip the apple sticks.

5. If simply adding apple slices to your child's lunchbox, cut up the apple, then reassemble it with a rubber band around it - to keep the apple slices from browning and fresh until lunchtime.


Cooking with Kids



Cooking is a great way to bring kids and parents together and encourage healthy eating!  Here's 3 reasons why cooking with your children is important and how to get started.

3 Reasons to Cook with Kids:

1. Cooking can be a great learning experience!  Having children participate in the cooking process can help them learn basic math skills (counting, weighing, measuring) and develop language.  Try creating a menu together and learning the nutrition involved in the menu. Discuss the food groups and what types of foods fit into each group.

2. Cooking promotes a feeling of responsibility and encourages healthy eating.  Teach kids about why foods are considered "healthy" or "unhealthy" and encourage cooking with fruits and vegetables.  Involving children in the food preparation process promotes more mindful food choices and eating patterns.  Also, the more invested in the meal, the more likely the child is to enjoy it - kids are much more likely to eat food they make themselves.

3. It teaches your kids a basic and essential life skill!  Cooking is an important skill and involving children at an early age helps set them up for future success.

How do you start cooking with your kids?  Start with an easier dish, or breakfast on the weekends where you have more time and let them try out the below tasks.

Cooking Tasks for Young Children:

1. Adding ingredients to a mixing bowl. 2. Stirring batter. 3. Assembling a pizza or sandwich. 4. Tearing apart food (such as lettuce). 5. Drying greens in a salad spinner. 6. Setting the table for the meal.

Cooking Tasks for Older Children:

1. Peeling fruits and vegetables (with a small peeler). 2. Mashing potatoes. 3. Stirring ingredients. 4. Rolling out dough and using cookies cutters. 5. Rinsing vegetables. 6. Squeezing lemons or limes with a plastic juicer. 7. Grating cheese. 8. Cracking eggs. 9. Measuring ingredients.

Creative Snacks for Kids

Try out these creative snack ideas for kids that are not only fun, but healthy too!   1. Cut fruit into fun shapes using cookie cutters - watermelon, pineapple, kiwi and cantaloupe work great!  Cookie cutters also work great with jello (use MWLC Cherry Jello Fiber to avoid sugary jello products from the store.)

2. Mold and position food into fun shapes and themes for children.  For example, create a "rainbow" using red, green, orange and yellow slices of bell pepper, with cauliflower florets to represent "clouds".  Use other fruits and vegetables to create animals, flowers, and other creative scenes for your kids.

3. Pour yogurt into ice cube molds (shaped molds can be found online) and freeze - kids will love the fun shapes in these easy frozen yogurt bites!

4. Kids love to dip!  Try dipping celery sticks into peanut butter, and Goldfish snacks, to create a 'Going Fishing' game.


5.  Make kabobs!  Cut up fresh fruit - strawberries, melon, pineapple - and add the chunks to a skewer.  Dip skewers in yogurt.

6.  Create "fruit popsicles".  In a blender, mix seedless watermelon, strawberries and fresh lemon juice.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until firm.  Enjoy!